Dish Adds 116,000 Pay TV Subscribers in Third Quarter

Charlie Ergen
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dish chairman Charlie Ergen

The company, led by chairman Charlie Ergen and CEO Erik Carlson, posts its latest results, with earnings and revenue exceeding estimates.

Dish Network on Friday said it added 116,000 net pay TV subscribers in the third quarter, compared with a gain of 148,000 in the year-ago period and a loss of 96,000 in the second quarter of 2020.

The latest quarter's figure includes subscribers to the traditional Dish pay TV service, as well as the Sling TV streaming service. The company later detailed that it added about 203,000 Sling TV subscribers in the latest period, while recording a net decline of 87,000 satellite TV subscribers.

The company, led by chairman Charlie Ergen and CEO Erik Carlson, ended September with 11.42 million total subscribers, including 8.96 million Dish TV subscribers and 2.46 million Sling TV subscribers.

Third-quarter net income reached $505 million, up from $353 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose to $4.53 billion from $3.17 billion. Both metrics exceeded Wall Street estimates.

In its second-quarter earnings report, the company had also noted "the positive impact of COVID-19," including stay-at-home orders that resulted in "increased consumption of our pay TV services." The pandemic also had "a positive impact on competitive pressures due to, among other things, a reduction in customers’ willingness to allow competitors’ technicians into their homes and delays and cancellations of sporting events that reduced the attractiveness of competitors’ promotional offers and services."

On an afternoon analyst call, Ergen argued Dish Networks may have gone without the former Fox Regional Sports Networks since failing to secure a carriage deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group in 2019, but hasn't given up on TV sports overall.

"I don't think sports are dead. And I don't think regional sports are dead," Ergen said before he recalled Sinclair had asked for too high programming rates for RSNs his subscribers didn't especially prize. "The value of regional sports to our customers was the most overrated thing. It wasn't a big risk for us," he added.

But with a greater focus on new technologies and consumer features, Ergen said pro leagues can still engage TV viewers for some time. "We haven't given up on sports. We think it's part of the ecosystem, we think that with changes around the edges, and maybe a fundamental change here and there, it's a business that will be around for a long time," he told the analyst call.